The quality of customer experiences brands are offering has fallen by 19 per cent overall, a step back to the early days of the pandemic, according to the 2022 edition of an annual report produced by Forrester.
Published to coincide with the Cambridge, Mass.-based market research firm’s CX North America event, which is being held both virtually and in Nashville this week, Forrester’s analysts surveyed 96,000 US customers across 221 brands and 13 industries for its proprietary CX Index.
Now in its seventh year, the latest CX Index shows a significant decline across multiple industries, which Forrester attributed to a number of macroeconomic factors. For example, only three per cent of brands met the firm’s definition of ‘customer obsession’ based on the use of data and action to provide excellent CX.
The CX Index also included data that suggested brands should make customer obsession a greater priority. More than half, or 54 per cent, of those surveyed said they were willing to forgive the mistakes of brands whose experiences made them feel happy, valued, and appreciated.
Despite the challenges, Forrester’s CX Index wasn’t all doom and gloom. For instance, the top 5% of brands — such as Navy Federal Credit Union, Trader Joe’s and Chewy.com— had a 15-point advantage over others in providing emotionally positive experiences for customers.
“US companies have lost the vital focus on customers that they gained at the beginning of the pandemic,” Forrester wrote. “Despite this year’s losses, great CX is sustainable. It requires an enterprisewide effort to put customers at the center of an organization’s leadership, strategy, and operations.”
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Forrester suggested that the drop in CX effectiveness since its previous report could be blamed on the usual suspects. These include staffing shortages brought up on by ‘The Great Resignation,’ the ongoing supply chain problems and subsequent rising costs in pretty much every area of their operations.
Analysts also suggested the brands had “flubbed” digital experiences. You could counter-argue that maintaining high CX through traditional (ie, physical) interactions while building out high-quality digital engagements at the same time is a tall order.
I’ve talked to a number of IT and business leaders recently who have suggested to me that what we’re really seeing is a sort of digital transformation reality check. In the early days of the pandemic, for example, there were a lot of firms that subtly bragged about accomplishing in weeks what had been planned for months.
In some cases, though, what they accomplished might have been stopgap or temporary fixes. Now, as companies learn more about the performance, capabilities and security certain digital experiences need, they need to retrofit the work they’ve done or perhaps even start over.
This could mean that businesses across the board are going through a type of CX/DX correction. If so, that should be reflected in the 2023 (or 2024) CX Index.
Forrester also found that at least one industry — investment services — showed gains in CX quality. This might be just more proof that companies tend to put their CX improvements where the money is.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.